Sep 07, 2011 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
The Onondaga County Legislator seat for the 13th district, representing the towns of Van Buren and Elbridge, as well as the northeast corner of the town of Camillus, is open for election this year. Two candidates, incumbent Robert Warner and opponent Derek Shepard, are competing for the Republican nomination in the Sept. 13 primary.
The Baldwinsville Messenger recently interviewed both men to get a better understanding of each candidate’s qualifications and viewpoints. The following are responses from Shepard:
Address: 127 Northrup Blvd.
Education: B.A. in political science and psychology, Syracuse University 2000; Juris Doctor Candidate, Syracuse Law (May 2012)
Work Experience: Executive director of West Side Manor Assisted Living and Parkrose Estates Retirement Community
Political Experience: I was elected to the Van Buren Town Board and have served from 2008 to present. I serve on the Parks & Recreation Committee and chair the Personnel Committee.
Community Involvement: I am the current president of the Greater Baldwinsville Economic Development Agency, Van Buren’s Municipal Representative on the Canton Woods Senior Center Board of Directors, and past-president of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy at Syracuse University Law.
What do you think are the major issues facing the county? How do you plan to address those issues?
The biggest issues facing the county are clearly the property tax burden and state mandates driving county costs. The Post Standard projected that taxes in Van Buren would increase 63 percent this year and homeowners like me have already begun to see this heavy cost reflected in our tax bills and escrow payments. As county legislator, I will employ the strategies we have used in the town to stabilize and reduce tax rates over the last four years, such as forcing aggressive competition between our vendors and consolidating operations within county government or with other governing bodies.
I would also clearly identify expenses Onondaga County faces, but which are not under its control, such as state mandates. The public needs to understand how state lawmakers impact the county’s budget if they are to effectively use their voices and their votes to hold the appropriate representatives accountable for mandate relief. The county legislator is in the best position to recognize and communicate this information to the public, and doing so should be a priority.
What will you do to prevent an in-county landfill from being built in Van Buren?
Preventing the development of Site 31 as an operating landfill is one of the most significant quality of life issues in our district and in the county as a whole. The development of Site 31 would have far reaching effects, well beyond the borders of the 13th district. The existing landfill being used at Seneca Meadows is reportedly adequate to serve our needs for decades to come, and I will fight any efforts to develop or sell the Site 31 property by making it a county-wide quality of life issue and bringing that pressure to bear on the entire legislature.
How will you work to reduce the tax burden on county residents?
When I identified the tax burden as the biggest issue facing the county, I described several ways I would address county expenses. I would add only that I will not, as my opponent has, vote for measures which balance the county budget by taking tools such as sales tax revenue sharing away from the towns who most certainly spend money the most efficiently.
How will you increase availability to constituents?
As a town board member, I am very used to being available to the constituents and this will not change if the voters send me to the county legislature. Anyone with questions or comments about town or county government is welcome to contact me at home at 638-2422 or by email at email@example.com. I have spent a lot of time going door to door to meet the residents of our district in person and I would always be more than happy to make time to get together.
Why should voters elect you?
I am proud to be a member of the current town board and of the difficult work we have done to keep the tax rate stable and declining every year of my term. At a time when the overall property tax burden on homeowners is skyrocketing, I hope the voters will look closely at my background and the support I’ve received from many well respected past and current elected local officials and choose confidently to move in a new direction by giving me your vote. Thank you.